It's very early in the morning, so please allow me to just blurt this out: hipsters are the dead end of Western civilization. They are anti-matter, devouring every counterculture before them, massacring idealism and installing lo-fi nostlagia as modus operandi, drowning 2k10 in a weird, all-black 'urrything recession vibe where “optimistic” is the dirtiest of words.
But Friday night at The Wiltern, six kids from Brooklyn — that great vortex of hipsterdom — did something a little different: they were earnest.
Dirty Projectors is ringleader Dave Longstreth, two friends, and three lovely sirens. Dave stands firmly in the middle of his crew, singing and playing guitar while managing the band from his peripherals. He seems to want to turn around and directly conduct his group of friends, forsaking audience interaction in order to perferct his craft.
He is not smooth, as lead singers so often strive to be, but he is earnest and possibly nervous – shaking as his neck sways separately from his body, his head moving with the music (though not always in time). He is a perfectionist, challenging his band with pop music undercut by difficult, staccato pauses and impossible vocal acrobatics.
And while David Byrne never showed for “Knotty Pine”, their set was still brilliant, its intricate arrangements interrupted only by the album cover's red and blue orbs fading in the background. “Useful Chamber” allowed Dave to repeat his favorite words (bitte orca), a treat, since they didn't play the pseudo-title track at Coachella. Angel Deradoorian sang with grace and control in measured, equal parts, and “Two Doves” lulled the crowd into dreamy submission (being understated is so rare).
And on “Stillness is the Move,” Amber Coffman paved ground for fiery songbirds/choir geeks around the world, doing R&B better than any of today's Billboard Top 100 floozies and probably holding her own against divas past .
There is nothing lo-fi about the Dirty Projectors (at least, in their current, post-Bitte Orca incarnation). They are well rehearsed and well produced, they are hard-working, and they are extraordinarily talented.
For those still unconvinced hipsters are murdering the culture they need (to mock) to survive, consider the crowd's response to the opener. Dominique Young Unique is a bite-sized firecracker, prancing about in lizard-like lycra and spewing rapidfire sass over cheap '80s beats. And yet, the audience dismissed the avante garde idea of dancing at a concert. There's no reason for the pursuit of irony to paralyze dark, crowded General Admission – that's just ridiculous.
The dead-end might be near, but talented bands like the Dirty Projectors are sneakily shaking up all that listless hipster apathy, still outshining all that lo-fi chillwave, and even inspiring my Bolivian mother to produce a 'better album called Bitte Llama.' (And when it drops, Questlove will be tweeting about it).